The Facebook Paradox: If A Stock's Value is Cut in Half ... (FB, ZNGA, GRPN, LNKD)

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Shares of Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) have now lost 50% of their value since the company's March IPO. If you believe the Greek philosopher Zeno, this halving can go on indefinitely, but never reach a point where the value is zero. Perhaps that's some comfort.

A scathing post on The New York Times Dealbook blog by Andrew Ross Sorkin lays the blame for Facebook's catastrophic IPO and the stock's ensuing price collapse squarely at the feet of the company's CFO, David Ebersman:

[Ebersman] — almost alone — pushed to flood the market with 25 percent more shares than originally planned in the final days before the offering. And since then, as the point person for investors, he has done little to articulate how or why the company's strategy will lift the stock price any time soon. … Facebook's falling stock price is not just a problem for investors; it is quickly creating real questions inside the company about its ability to retain and attract talented engineers, the lifeblood of any technology company.

Whether Sorkin's fault-finding is correct is at least arguable. Certainly founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg might at least share in the blame. It's no secret that he wanted to lay claim to a $100 billion IPO.

Whatever. But there's no denying that with shares currently trading below $18, Facebook is not the darling it was in those heady pre-IPO days. Share prices at social game maker Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA) and daily deal site Groupon Inc. (NASDAQ: GRPN) have suffered even more and Facebook investors have to begin to wonder if the social network's shares are headed for the 80% declines that have hit the other big social media companies.

Only LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE: LNKD) has dodged the huge declines, instead posting a gain of about 138% since the company's IPO in May 2011. How long LinkedIn can keep that up is a serious questions. The company's forward P/E is 81.75, a level that could easily be considered over-valued.

Facebook's shares are currently trading at $17.75 after posting a new post-IPO low of $17.55 earlier.

Shares of Zynga are down about 3.2% at $2.71, just above the low end of the 52-week range of $2.66-$15.91.

Groupon's shares are trading down 2.4% at $4.05 after falling to a new post-IPO low of $4.00 earlier. The prior range was $4.12-$31.14.

LinkedIn's shares are off 0.2% at $107.11 in a 52-week range of $55.98-$120.63.

Paul Ausick


Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, HI/LOW, Internet Tagged: FB, GRPN, LNKD, ZNGA
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